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V5 Touchstones and Humanity; Why I dislike them

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  • #76
    Originally posted by Cifer View Post

    While that may be the case, you seem to be ignoring another massive benefit of Touchstones and Convictions: You can use them to regenerate Aggravated Willpower damage (see page 159). Speak up on behalf of the elder's mistreated ghouls? You may have earned yourself a kicking, but since Slavery Is Evil, you also got that Agg WP back. Considering that you can heal at best one per session otherwise, that is extremely helpful.
    Hmm, one could argue being a vampire's slave is a better alternative to being a vampire's herd. You'll probably live a lot longer, and might just have the opportunity for further advancement.

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    • #77
      Originally posted by Cifer View Post
      Slavery Is Evil
      So, no ghouls at all then...

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      • #78
        Originally posted by Cifer
        While that may be the case

        ...
        And that was all what I was talking about...

        So...you still think it's a great system to represent a bulwark of your windling Human morals in spite of the fact you risk less Humanity loss if you choose bestial Convictions and/or destroy your Touchstone?. You have nothing to add to that particuar subject?

        You can use them to regenerate Aggravated Willpower damage (see page 159)...
        I don't know when Willpower regeneration become relevant to my point as to be accused of "ignoring it".

        I mean, sure, a good vampire may want to do that very specific thing you mention, and will regain aggravated willpower damage (assuming he suffered it!, which it's possible but not an absolute) faster with that specific Conviction than than w/o it. However, I would argue that, in general, vampires that want to be both good and Humane would do better to not get mixed with vampire politics, as those are evil in many more ways that what a few Convictions can cover for...

        ...and if you realy feel the need to do something about the vampiric overlords, depending on a mortal that can be targeted by said overlords may not be the best strategy. In fact, I would rather risk to suffer the Willpower Aggs than risk the angry elder (that is way more powerful than me and may well be able to read my mind) finding my touchstones to make them suffer, turning them into a tool to force me to do their bidding and/or using them to cause instant agg damage to my willpower (as secrets to be revealed in Social Combat).
        Last edited by Aleph; 04-24-2019, 12:21 PM.

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        • #79
          Originally posted by Aleph View Post

          I mean, sure, a good vampire may want to do that very specific thing you mention, and will regain aggravated willpower damage (assuming he suffered it!, which it's possible but not an absolute) faster with that specific Conviction than than w/o it. However, I would argue that, in general, vampires that want to be both good and Humane would do better to not get mixed with vampire politics, as those are evil in many more ways that what a few Convictions can cover for...

          ...and if you realy feel the need to do something about the vampiric overlords, depending on a mortal that can be targeted by said overlords may not be the best strategy. In fact, I would rather risk to suffer the Willpower Aggs than risk the angry elder (that is way more powerful than me and may well be able to read my mind) finding my touchstones to make them suffer, turning them into a tool to force me to do their bidding and/or using them to cause instant agg damage to my willpower (as secrets to be revealed in Social Combat).
          Yep, that's the risk you take when you decide to challenge the reigning monarch who's been able to maintain their position since the time your grandparents were mere children. That elder is not a benevolent King Arthur, fighting to defend the people of Britain from the forces of evil. They're a ruthless Prince John, taxing the people into poverty, as Robin Hood can do naught but wage guerilla style hit and run tactics along their trade routes.

          You dragged your loved ones into this the moment you decided to raise your fist in defiance against your lord. If you want a realistic chance at victory, it's better to just not have such emotional connections in the first place. That way, the ones in power have no choice but to strike at you directly!
          Last edited by Nyrufa; 04-24-2019, 09:26 PM.

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          • #80
            Originally posted by Aleph View Post
            Indeed. And you don't even drop 2 humanity, if I understand it well. You gain 3 Taints, which may or may not affect your Humanity depending on how well you roll (hence it's better to break your bond at the end of the sesion, to better calculate the guilt)

            Another irony (considering that Touchstones are supposed to represent a bulwark for your morality) it's that if you already intended to RP a "good vampire" in a general sense and thus, most likely, you intended not to break the Tenents, you may be better off without Touchstones. Having them gives you a shield for when you break the Tenents (sometimes) in exchange for other ways of losing humanity. So, the more you manage to avoid breaking the universal morality of the chronicle, the less net gain you get from having Touchstones.

            If we go to that, the more your Convictions reflect the general morality, the less useful they are (as a shield for when you break it). So, if you plan to use Touchstones to keep Humanity, you may end being better off adoring a psychopath sadist than a benevolent martir
            Regarding that, I've noticed most touchstones instead tend to be used as a way to not suffer for breaking the Chronicle principles. No killing often results in a conviction and touchstone of "Do what is necessary." In my experience of play. It's how I'd do it too. Not great.

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            • #81
              Originally posted by Aleph View Post
              So, the more you manage to avoid breaking the universal morality of the chronicle, the less net gain you get from having Touchstones.
              Actually, that's another thing that should probably be addressed. There is no such thing as "universal" morality. There are so many examples of this throughout real life, both on a societal and individual level, that it may as well be beyond counting.

              Having your ST decide on a universal system of tenets by which people are expected to abide by, sounds like they're going for an Objective Morality concept, when in real life, people have always followed a Subjective Morality. What was deemed socially acceptable and even morally righteous a thousand years ago would be deemed barbaric and cruel by today's standards. And vise versa, the morality of today would probably be met with shock and outrage by the people from back then.

              Society changes over time, and so too do the ideals by which it aspires to uphold. There are many different factors at play, including culture, religion, upbringing, life experiences, personal philosophy and so on. If everybody in the world agreed on what was right and what was wrong, we would have achieved world peace by now. Instead of being in a constant state of bloody war and petty bickering.
              Last edited by Nyrufa; 04-24-2019, 04:02 PM.

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              • #82
                Originally posted by Nyrufa View Post

                Actually, that's another thing that should probably be addressed. There is no such thing as "universal" morality. There are so many examples of this throughout real life, both on a societal and individual level, that it may as well be beyond counting.

                Having your ST decide on a universal system of tenets by which people are expected to abide by, sounds like they're going for an Objective Morality concept, when in real life, people have always followed a Subjective Morality. What was deemed socially acceptable and even morally righteous a thousand years ago would be deemed barbaric and cruel by today's standards. And vise versa, the morality of today would probably be met with shock and outrage by the people from back then.

                Society changes over time, and so too do the ideals by which it aspires to uphold. There are many different factors at play, including culture, religion, upbringing, life experiences, personal philosophy and so on. If everybody in the world agreed on what was right and what was wrong, we would have achieved world peace by now. Instead of being in a constant state of bloody war and petty bickering.
                This was more of an issue with the older humanity system, where it was straight up universal (and God the ST's I had to deal with sure made you fuckin know it. Sometimes it was quite insufferable)

                With the new system it's not *too* bad, as you as a group are sitting down and deciding what sort of moral themes you would like to see in play, and if you think your character has a moral view that differs from that base, convictions are there. And as far as I know the tenents section doesn't apply to NPCs, so it's not really universal. You're just selecting the themes that you want to play by as a group with the option to break away from them with your own particular character via their own convictions. That isn't a problem, it's good. At least on it's own. It runs into other issues at separate points.

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                • #83
                  Originally posted by PixelPuzzler View Post

                  This was more of an issue with the older humanity system, where it was straight up universal (and God the ST's I had to deal with sure made you fuckin know it. Sometimes it was quite insufferable)

                  With the new system it's not *too* bad, as you as a group are sitting down and deciding what sort of moral themes you would like to see in play, and if you think your character has a moral view that differs from that base, convictions are there. And as far as I know the tenents section doesn't apply to NPCs, so it's not really universal. You're just selecting the themes that you want to play by as a group with the option to break away from them with your own particular character via their own convictions. That isn't a problem, it's good. At least on it's own. It runs into other issues at separate points.

                  I read through that like 3 times and basically came away with:

                  ST: Okay, so we agree that these are the themes we want to see in the game, right?

                  Players: Right!

                  ST: Okay, now let's exploit game mechanics to do the exact opposite!

                  Players: Yaaaaay!


                  "Practice what you preach." If the morality system doesn't apply to NPC's, then I see no reason why it should apply to players. At that point, the idea of morality becomes an illusionary concept, maintained only by weaker kindred, who refuse to accept what they have become.

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                  • #84
                    Originally posted by jamiemalk View Post
                    So, no ghouls at all then...
                    Noone said being good was an easy choice, did they?

                    Originally posted by Aleph View Post
                    And that was all what I was talking about...

                    So...you still think it's a great system to represent a bulwark of your windling Human morals in spite of the fact you risk less Humanity loss if you choose bestial Convictions and/or destroy your Touchstone?. You have nothing to add to that particuar subject?



                    I don't know when Willpower regeneration become relevant to my point as to be accused of "ignoring it".

                    I mean, sure, a good vampire may want to do that very specific thing you mention, and will regain aggravated willpower damage (assuming he suffered it!, which it's possible but not an absolute) faster with that specific Conviction than than w/o it. However, I would argue that, in general, vampires that want to be both good and Humane would do better to not get mixed with vampire politics, as those are evil in many more ways that what a few Convictions can cover for...

                    ...and if you realy feel the need to do something about the vampiric overlords, depending on a mortal that can be targeted by said overlords may not be the best strategy. In fact, I would rather risk to suffer the Willpower Aggs than risk the angry elder (that is way more powerful than me and may well be able to read my mind) finding my touchstones to make them suffer, turning them into a tool to force me to do their bidding and/or using them to cause instant agg damage to my willpower (as secrets to be revealed in Social Combat).
                    You said Convictions similar to general morality are "useless" without further qualification. They're not. So yeah, you seemed to be ignoring the WP part.
                    In my view of the system, there are two ways to use Convictions: Either to soften the blow from a broken Tenet or to regenerate Aggravated Willpower damage. Some Convictions can be used for both, but most will tend towards one of the two: Either the Conviction describes a circumstance where it is necessary to act against a Tenet or it presents a way for the vampire to endanger themselves by standing up for what they consider to be right. A vampire who might need to break chronicle Tenets will likely choose Convictions that excuse these sins while a vampire who isn't likely to break them can choose other Convictions that give them bonuses for acting upon them. To say that Convictions are useless for players who don't intend to break chronicle tenets is like saying V5 Fortitude is useless for characters who never intend to get into physical combat - it is, but only if you take the powers that make you a physical damage sponge rather than granting you a will of steel.

                    Additionally, choosing bestial Convictions when you don't intend to act upon them regularly is a particularly bad idea as they act like additional chronicle tenets when broken. So if the character has "Orders Are Orders" to excuse some stuff they might do in service of the Prince and then a command comes along that they really don't want to obey... get out the stain marker!

                    And, finally, consider that it seems like you can inflict Aggravated Willpower damage on yourself by spending Willpower when you don't have any left. After all, "spend Willpower" really only means "take one Superficial damage to Willpower" - and Superficial wraps around into Aggravated when the bar is full. Vampires with a good set of Convictions can go far deeper into debt there without being useless for the rest of the chronicle compared to a convictionless vampire who can at best regenerate one dot per session.

                    Originally posted by PixelPuzzler View Post
                    Regarding that, I've noticed most touchstones instead tend to be used as a way to not suffer for breaking the Chronicle principles. No killing often results in a conviction and touchstone of "Do what is necessary." In my experience of play. It's how I'd do it too. Not great.
                    I would argue that "do what is necessary" is too broad a principle to count as a Conviction. But yes, as mentioned above, many combat characters will have Convictions that mitigate Stains for certain types of killing. And it's fine that they do! Within the broad confines of a chronicle's Tenets, certain players will want to put a different focus on things than others. If you've spent half your XP on Potence and Brawl and you're neck-deep in obligations to Gangrel for having learned those sweet claws, chances are you want to flex those muscles once in a while. On the other hand side, the dainty Toreador who has no such Convictions probably wants killing to be a big deal for them. This way, you can have both Lestat and Louis in the same game (up to a point).
                    Last edited by Cifer; 04-24-2019, 05:50 PM.

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                    • #85
                      Originally posted by Cifer View Post
                      Noone said being good was an easy choice, did they?
                      .
                      Not sure if i'd say it was "good" per say. The only character i've played who thought ghouling is "bad" is on a variant of the Path of Redemption in the Sabbat, and that's only because the path views it as an embodiment of the sin of Greed, he's pretty far from good.


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                      • #86
                        Originally posted by Nyrufa View Post


                        I read through that like 3 times and basically came away with:

                        ST: Okay, so we agree that these are the themes we want to see in the game, right?

                        Players: Right!

                        ST: Okay, now let's exploit game mechanics to do the exact opposite!

                        Players: Yaaaaay!


                        "Practice what you preach." If the morality system doesn't apply to NPC's, then I see no reason why it should apply to players. At that point, the idea of morality becomes an illusionary concept, maintained only by weaker kindred, who refuse to accept what they have become.
                        Why would the ST encourage the players to break with the Chronicle tenets that they collectively agreed were of interest to them? Why would everyone build their characters that way if they agreed that they wanted those tenets? That just seems like being an ass. The protective convictions are there for the edge cases.

                        Player 1: I think killing should only be a stain if it's not in self-defence.
                        Player 2-4: We think all killing should be a stain
                        ST: How about we compromise. We'll make all killing a stain, and you can grab a conviction to help it so your character can be accurately represented.

                        Hopefully the player is okay with that and you now have an easy and mutually agreeable way to move forward. Maybe not and you need to discuss it more, but it provides an easy solution most of the time.

                        Maybe not a perfect example, but it's just one of a few. Of course this is still me trying to justify a system I don't really like anyway, but I think that it's important to accurately represent it in the process of pointing out its flaws and stating what you dislike about it. All too often I see people complaining about parts of a system and why it sucks when it never really did that to begin with.

                        For an easy example, crit-fails on skill rolls in D&D/PF. Those aren't a thing in the rules, base, but some people take to complaining about how they hate the game in part because of that "rule."

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                        • #87
                          Originally posted by PixelPuzzler View Post

                          Why would the ST encourage the players to break with the Chronicle tenets that they collectively agreed were of interest to them? Why would everyone build their characters that way if they agreed that they wanted those tenets? That just seems like being an ass. The protective convictions are there for the edge cases.
                          They probably wouldn't. I was just using satire to draw attention to the fact that exploiting the system was possible, and therefor made the entire point of creating those tenets irrelevant in the first place.

                          Once again, if the morality system doesn't apply to NPC's (the vast majority of which I'm assuming to be mortals), then it shouldn't have to apply to players (the vast majority of which are probably going to be vampires) either. Vampires are supposed to have lower standards of what constitutes right and wrong, not higher!

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                          • #88
                            Originally posted by Nyrufa View Post
                            They probably wouldn't. I was just using satire to draw attention to the fact that exploiting the system was possible, and therefor made the entire point of creating those tenets irrelevant in the first place.
                            As mentioned above: Not a fact.

                            Originally posted by Nyrufa View Post
                            Once again, if the morality system doesn't apply to NPC's (the vast majority of which I'm assuming to be mortals), then it shouldn't have to apply to players (the vast majority of which are probably going to be vampires) either. Vampires are supposed to have lower standards of what constitutes right and wrong, not higher!
                            I think we've already established that your preferred system of morality is "none at all", but that's not the path Vampire chose - not now, not in any edition. And previous editions actually drew attention to the fact that mortals can be bad far more easily than vampires because they're usually not in danger of losing their minds to an inner voice of bloodlust and hunger. Clanbook Lasombra mentioned that embracing serial killers was a recurring fad in the clan that had never worked out because nearly all of them went wassail sooner rather than later.

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                            • #89
                              Originally posted by Cifer View Post

                              I think we've already established that your preferred system of morality is "none at all"
                              No, if my preferred system was "none at all" then my characters would dive head first into the chasm of 0 humanity without a parachute. I recognize a system of morality, I just don't recognize Humanity as being an important part of that system, Not for a race of creatures who aren't even human in the first place, and can only maintain the illusion of such for short periods of time before their monstrosity starts to become apparent.

                              What the hell even is "Humanity" in the first place? Because if actual humans are generally in the range of 6 or 7, while anything higher than that is considered "more human than human" it sounds like even the very species for which it is named after doesn't put much stock in this esoteric and seemingly unquantifiable concept. When I read about Humanity in this game, I don't view it as a lesson on what it means to be human. I view it as a romanticized version of how humans perceive themselves to be. When the reality of the situation is far worse than they would like to admit to themselves.

                              V20 attempted to warn me that playing a Path of Enlightenment was supposed to be difficult and stressful, more so on the player than the character. But for me, that's not the case. Indeed, I find it incredibly easy to slip into the alien mindset of such characters, and understand their reasons for conducting themselves in such a fashion. They still have a system of ethics and morality to them. They just refuse to delude themselves into pretending to be something they're not.
                              Last edited by Nyrufa; 04-25-2019, 08:18 AM.

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                              • #90
                                Originally posted by Cyfer
                                You said Convictions similar to general morality are "useless" without further qualification.
                                If I had said that, I may had to aknowledge that's not right. However, reading what I said:

                                Originally posted by Aleph
                                If we go to that, the more your Convictions reflect the general morality, the less useful they are (as a shield for when you break it). So, if you plan to use Touchstones to keep Humanity, you may end being better off adoring a psychopath sadist than a benevolent martir
                                I didn't say they were useless without further qualification. I said they were less useful (which it's softer than useless, if I'm not wrong) AND qualified it by specifying in what sense they were less useful. Nothing in your argument contradicts a single word of that.

                                Then I argumented that a good, moral, vampire may have a better time keeping Humanity without them. Which it's again not an absolute (may). I can imagine situations (that, notoriously, you haven't mentioned) where having Convictions would be advantageous for a good vampire's Humanity. But I'm willing to argue that, in general, they aren't really that good for a vampire that just want's to keep their Human morality

                                That they're useful for combat it's out of the reach of my argument. It just doesn't adress the problematic I was adressing: That being a system that supposedly represents a bulwark of your dwindling morals agains the Beast erosion of your Humanity, it does a very poor job at doing so.

                                So: you didn't paid atention to what I said. Again. Hence most of your answer lacks relevance.

                                The only place I can see where your data could connect with my argument (that you haven't mentioned, but I feel compelled to do for the sake of the argument) it's that Willpower can be used to contain the Beast sometimes (Bestial failures/critics). Hence it isn't entirely useless for Humanity's sake to be able to regen that faster. However, WP has an indirect relationship with Humanity. It could be argued that your WP and dicepools are more controlable/less risky than your Touchstones.

                                Additionally, choosing bestial Convictions when you don't intend to act upon them regularly is a particularly bad idea as they act like additional chronicle tenets when broken. So if the character has "Orders Are Orders" to excuse some stuff they might do in service of the Prince and then a command comes along that they really don't want to obey... get out the stain marker!
                                Obviously the problem I'm talking about it's not choosing Convictions about things you don't intend to do.

                                One notorious problem of Paths in Masquerade was players choosing the "Path of the Murderhobo" or the "Path of What I Was Going to Do Anyway". Convictions seem to have a similar problem.

                                Now, this isn't unsurmountable, the ST just has to be careful about it when allowing Convictions. However, the fact that you loose part of the advantages they provide if they happen to coincide with the Tenets (and advantages pertaining directly to Humanity, to make it more ironic) it's a bit jarring anyway. And this fact doesn't vanish just 'cause Conviction has other uses.

                                For the record: I'm not against Touchstones being a thing, much less against Convictions. I'm just showcasing certain issues with the implementation, the way they relate to each other and with Humanity.
                                Last edited by Aleph; 04-25-2019, 11:33 AM.

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